The stars filed through the press room after tonight’s hour-long Grammy nomination special (the Grammy ceremony airs live on CBS on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 at 8 p.m. ET/PT) in an efficient, joyous, and slightly dizzying conveyor belt process: Presenter Ringo Starr proudly identified himself as a Black Eyed Peas fan. Nominee and official nutty Frenchman David Guetta leaped on top of Grammy board member Jimmy Jam, who then announced that the Time reunion that started on the 2008 telecast would soon birth an album. Kings of Leon’s Nathan Followill noted that their four “Use Somebody” nominations tonight – on top of the ones from last year, when “Sex on Fire” won Best Group Rock Performance – make a whopping seven noms over two years. “It’s pretty cool to have a record that people can tolerate for that long,” he said. Keri Hilson called tonight the “creme de la creme” in her massive year of dreams coming true. And multiple nominee Drake confessed that back in high school, “I used to dream about hearing my name get called at something like this. My mom can vouch for me. I definitely lost hours of sleep.”
Taylor Swift – who picked up 8 nominations – wasn’t in the building, but that didn’t stop everyone from focusing on the blond chart-buster. Grammy head Neil Portnow said he was “delighted” about all of her noms. “Taylor is a phenomenon in entertainment,” he said. “She crosses so many genres and generations. She’s really struck a chord with people because her music is so honest.” Colbie Caillat, who picked up a nod for her collaboration with Swift on “Breathe,” echoed the honesty sentiment. Host LL Cool J said he thinks she is a “beautiful girl.” KOL’s Followill is pulling for her because they shop at the same Whole Foods. The Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie thinks she is “adorable,” and will.i.am said he plays her songs in his club set. More topically, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles said Swift’s success was “exciting” for Nashville, because she brings in so many younger listeners. “David Cassidy is now in country music!” Nettles jokingly exclaimed. “It’s like Tiger Beat. I think it’s cool.” She also expressed some amazement at the 20 year old’s life in contrast to her own. “When I was 20, I was playing clubs and learning how to drink Jim Beam and Coke,” she said. “Very different.”
Elsewhere in Sugarland, the duo – who picked up a nom for “It Happens” – seemed quite serious about Kristian Bush’s on-screen invitation to LL Cool J to come play with them. What would they like to do with LL? “Whatever he wants to do,” Bush said. For his part, LL says he’s open to it, but is concerned about the tight jeans and boots that may be involved. “Too much crotch L,” he said. Also in style news, the Black Eyed Peas talked about their intention to make t-shirts out of the recycled water bottles from their upcoming tour, and called being caught listening their own music on the radio “embarrassing.” About their nominations, will.i.am confessed, “We could have been forgotten. I’m so proud that we didn’t get swallowed by our yesterday’s success.” Then he started vocally remixing “Purple Haze” on stage in front of us. “He hasn’t had any Red Bull,” apologized Taboo. “He’s always like this,” said Fergie.
But the most emotional moments of the night came from Maxwell, whose performance of Michael Jackson’s “The Lady In My Life” was also one of the evening’s creative high points. The R&B prodigal son has been out of the game for the past eight years, and asked the press corps to be “gentle” with him. “This is very surreal for me,” he said. “I was living in basic obscurity, so to come back and to make a record based on my own living experiences and not my desire to be number one, and to have this kind of reception – I feel like I’ve already won.” But he did note one big change since he’s been gone, something he’s trying to rectify with his plan of releasing three albums under the Blacksummers’night banner. “I want to bring back the idea of albums again,” he said. “Things are so singles-oriented. There was this thing that was a record before. There were songs, and it was a body of work, as opposed to just three minutes of you shaking your butt on a dance floor somewhere.” Although he lost out in the Album of the Year category to acts like the Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, and Beyonce, Maxwell did not seem the least bit discouraged. “I won’t be going away anymore,” he said.
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